When I started eating a vegan diet I was doing a lot of my own baking. I found that using a teaspoon of vanilla extract here and there added up to an empty bottle really quickly. And that stuff is expensive (unless you use the cheap imitation vanilla flavor but you don't use that right?). Once I discovered how easy it was to make my own I whipped up a batch and I've never looked back. I had the first batch for a couple of years but recently decided it was time for a fresh batch.
It's so amazingly simple. You just need an empty glass jar, a bottle of any vodka (don't waste the really good stuff!), and two vanilla beans. I buy them at Whole Foods where they are two for 7.99 but I've seen them at Shaw's and recently at a kitchen shop in the old Port where they were $4.99!
Score the vanilla beans with a knife so that they release their extract more easily:
Here is the jar on the first day. It will take a while to "seep" and get that nice dark, rich vanilla extract color.
Here it is a week later. It's just starting to get a slight tint:
Here it is two weeks in and it's already much more amber looking:
And here it is after about 6 weeks. It's ready to dip a teaspoon in. The vanilla beans will release some black specks but they settle at the bottom and don't hurt anything. As the liquid runs low you can keep adding vodka for quite a long time before you will feel like you should change the beans out.
That's a lot of vanilla extract! You can experiment with using different vodkas and types of beans but I promise you will never go back to expensive store bought!